Conclusion Of Fatal Traffic Crash Investigation: Central Road at Weller Lane
Conclusion of Fatal Traffic Crash Investigation:
Central Road at Weller Lane
The Mount Prospect Police Department recently concluded its investigation into the fatal collision between a 55-year old bicyclist and a motor vehicle at a pedestrian crossing on Central Road at Weller Lane. The June 9, 2016, crash claimed the life of Mount Prospect resident Joni Beaudry who had been struck by an eastbound vehicle while she rode her bicycle in the crosswalk.
The driver of the eastbound Lexus SUV, Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village, initially received citations for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failing to reduce speed to avoid a crash on the date of the crash. With the results of the investigation now available, the Mount Prospect Police charged Burzynska with the additional offenses of driving in violation of a restriction (corrective lenses required) and improper passing of a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. The charge of failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash will be amended to driving too fast for conditions. Ms. Burzynska’s next court date is October 14, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at the Cook County 3rd District Courthouse in Rolling Meadows.
The investigation determined Ms. Burzynska to be the primary cause of the collision with Ms. Beaudry who had been riding her bicycle northbound across Central Road towards Melas Park. Prior to entering the roadway, witnesses saw Ms. Beaudry activate the warning beacons at the crossing. Witnesses in both eastbound and westbound traffic saw the activated beacons. Three vehicles in the eastbound curb lane came to a stop before the crosswalk. After they stopped, Ms. Beaudry began riding her bicycle in the crosswalk. As she reached the eastbound median lane, Ms. Beaudry was struck by Ms. Burzynska’s Lexus.
Ms. Beaudry sustained significant injuries as a result of the collision. Mount Prospect Fire Department paramedics tended to her at the scene and transported her to Lutheran General Hospital. She later died from those injuries on June 11, 2016.
Ms. Burzynska admitted to be driving at 40 miles per hour in the posted 35 mile per hour speed zone. Data recovered from the Lexus supported her speed estimate. Ms. Burzynska stated she did not see the flashing beacons prior to the collision. She also reported not seeing Ms. Beaudry until she rode in front of the Lexus. Upon seeing Ms. Beaudry enter her lane of traffic, Ms. Burzynska applied her brakes. Investigators determined cell phone use not to be a factor in the crash.
The investigation also indicated Ms. Beaudry’s actions to be a contributing factor to the collision. State traffic law requires pedestrians to enter the roadway only when safe to do so and not to enter a roadway when another vehicle is so close as to constitute a danger.
“While this is not the conclusion many in the community would desire,” said Police Chief Tim Janowick regarding the outcome of the investigation, “it is the correct legal conclusion based on the traffic laws. The crossing of roadways by pedestrians and bicyclists is a partnership between the drivers and pedestrians. Drivers must stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, but pedestrians may not enter a lane of traffic until it is safe to do so.”
The Illinois legislature changed the traffic law in 2010 from requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crossing to requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop.
“As we change our culture of transportation,” continued Chief Janowick, “by encouraging greater pedestrian and bicycle travel, we need to change our culture of driving as well. Motorists must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. The risk involved between a vehicle and a person is not worth the short time it takes to stop. Until we change our driving habits and start stopping for pedestrians, I fear we will continue to see tragedies like this one. A family is devastated by the loss of a wife and mother. The community has mourned with them. Increasing awareness and stopping for pedestrians can prevent further tragedies.”
“To improve safety, drivers must become more attentive to their environment. Put down the cell phones, take out the earbuds, and focus on driving. At the same time, bicyclists must be cognizant of their responsibility to obey traffic laws when traveling on the roadways. Pedestrians must be vigilant for traffic regardless where they are crossing the roadway. Driving, bicycling, and walking on roadways is a partnership.”
The Mount Prospect Police Department reminds drivers of their lawful obligations when approaching pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks:
• Drivers must stop their vehicles to allow pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk to walk across the roadway safely when the pedestrian is on their half of the roadway or so close from the opposite half to be a danger.
• A driver of a motor vehicle approaching from the rear may not pass another vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
• Whenever stop signs or red flashing lights are in place at an intersection or at a crosswalk in between intersections, drivers will give the right of way to pedestrians.
• When signs are posted warning of pedestrians, bicyclists, or school crossings, drivers must exercise greater caution and be aware of the presence of people crossing the roadway.
Also, the Mount Prospect Police Department reminds pedestrians and bicyclists of their lawful responsibilities:
• Bicyclists on the roadway must follow the rules of the road like any motor vehicle including stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, and using the right hand side of the roadway.
• Pedestrians and bicyclists using marked or unmarked crosswalks at intersections controlled by traffic signals must follow the “walk” and “don’t walk” signals.
• Pedestrians and cyclists using marked or unmarked crosswalks at locations not controlled by traffic signals or stop signs may not walk, ride, or run off a curb or place of safety into the path of a moving vehicle which is so close as to present an immediate danger.
• Pedestrians and bicyclists are reminded to look for traffic in every direction as they cross any roadway to increase their safety as they cross.
The Village has been working with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and State Representative David Harris on near term crossing improvements at Weller Lane and Central Road.
“We are appreciative of the responsiveness of IDOT in reviewing our requests for safety enhancements at this crossing, but we are asking them to get out of their box in terms of considering new hybrid red light signals that have been deployed successfully in other states,” stated Village Manager Michael Cassady. “We also are requesting that the State reduce the speed limit to 30 MPH to match speed limits of Northwest Highway – Route 14 in the downtown area. A center median and over-head warning beacons are also being installed as an interim safety measure,” Cassady said. “We are also using all of our communication platforms to get the word out to parents in Mount Prospect to teach their children the safe way to cross the many busy streets in our Community.”
The Village hopes IDOT will have information on the request for a full signal at Central and Weller as well as the reduction in speed to 30 MPH in the next 60 days.